The college applications are submitted, acceptances are arriving, financial aid forms are submitted or nearly so, and now your high school senior sighs relief—maybe too much relief. Every year, many second semester seniors suddenly slack off. Homework slides, attendance slides, responsibilities slide, and grades slide. Diagnosis: Senioritis.
It is hard to blame seniors for wanting to kick back, relax, and enjoy the last few months with friends that they might not see again for awhile after they head off to their perspective campuses. They should, in fact, be granted some reprise; but a bad case of senioritis can have serious consequences.
While it is true that colleges consider the junior year or first semester senior grades when deciding which students to accept, it also is true that they look at the last semester grades of accepted students. If those grades have slipped significantly, an accepted student can find that acceptance rescinded, the student can be placed on academic probation, or a financial aid package may be downgraded. Colleges want to see that the student has remained diligent, involved, and successful even when home base is just inches away—traits the college wants the student to bring with him to campus. If the college sees that a student has taken a considerable downturn, that student may be asked to explain what happened and why.
Even though it may be hard to convince them, seniors need to understand that freshman year is tough—one in four college freshmen drop out of school. If a senior slacks off during her last semester, grows rusty in her study skills, loses the habit of diligence and perseverance, then she may have a difficult time adjusting to the more rigorous college curriculum and expectations. The last year or semester of high school is the transition to college. Students should keep up and hone their student success skills as vital practice for the fall; parents will not be around to help keep them on track and professors are not likely to follow up if they miss class or do not complete homework assignments.
Another symptom of senioritis, although severe, is that some students decide to ignore school rules, cause disruptions, or go wild socially. Colleges do not look favorably on reports of disciplinary action from an accepted student’s school or from law enforcement officials. Colleges expect their students to be mature, responsible adults.
Seniors should enjoy their final year of high school, but they also need to keep their grades high, stay involved in their school and community activities, and stay committed to hard work and perseverance. While your senior stays centered in the last semester of high school, also help him move toward his future. If she doesn’t have a major, help her research possible careers. If he doesn’t know how to cook, start teaching him how to make simple meals. Encourage her to apply for jobs for the summer to earn much-needed college pocket money.
Help them remember that while they are still doing homework and assignments, senior prom, senior class activities, and parties are coming up. And then, right around the corner, there is that sure cure for seniorities: graduation.
P. Carol Jones is the author of “Toward College Success: Is Your Teenager Ready, Willing, and Able.” Visit www.towardcollegesuccess.com to read excerpts and to follow her blog. Ferah Aziz is a college coach with launchphase2. Visit www.launchphase2.com or call (720) 340-8111 to learn more about coaching for college bound students.